The benefits of Cannabis and CBD oil

what-is-cbd-oil-the-cannabis-based-supplement-that-experts-say-can-treat-anxiety-and-joint-pain-136426786016502601-180501101010

The marijuana plant or Cannabis sativa contains two main active constituents, Cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Unlike THC, the CBD is not psychoactive and therefore has not been found to cause any of the negative psychological affects associated with cannabis intake, such as anxiety, paranoia and memory issues.

Some of the proposed benefits of CBD include:

  • It can help to reduce inflammation by decreasing the production of many pro-inflammatory substances by the immune system. It can also act directly on the immune cells to enhance their anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory reactions.
  • It can help treat depression and reduce anxiety.
  • Some studies have suggested that CBD can help with psychosis and schizophrenia, with some reporting similar effects to pharmaceutical interventions, with less instance of side effects.
  • On its own or in combination with THC, CBD has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation. This, along with the anti-inflammatory effects have been shown to provide relief of joint swelling, pain and disease progression in sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • It can provide relief of digestive symptoms; reducing nausea and increasing appetite, as well as reducing bowel inflammation in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases. It may be particularly useful for food allergy sufferers.
  • Benefits for diabetes sufferers have also been shown, with lower fasting insulin, and waist circumference after taking CBD. It may also have a protective effect on the insulin producing cells of the pancreas in patients with type 1 diabetes.
  • Cardiac health may also be improved with CBD. Positive effects on arterial stiffness, blood vessel damage, blood pressure responses to stress, and blood clotting have been observed.
  • It has a protective effect on brain function, and has been shown to help preserve brain cells after stroke. It has also shown promise in helping patients with degenerative nerve and brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Epilepsy and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). It may help Multiple Sclerosis patients reduce some of the symptoms associated with the condition, such as muscle tightness, pain and problems sleeping.
  • It has tumour fighting effects in many cancers patients, and can also help the immune system to work more effectively at tackling tutor cells. In addition CBD can benefit the nausea, pain and appetite loss experienced in many cancer sufferers, and it can also increase the effectiveness of certain cancer fighting drugs.
  • The regrowth of broken bones may be expedited with CBD treatment.
  • There have been positive effects on insomnia after taking CBD before bed.
  • Skin problems such as psoriasis and acne have also been improved with CBD.

 

Overall CBD is generally well tolerated by the body with very few side effects. If you want to improve your body function in any of the areas listed above, you may wish to consult with a specialist doctor about how a CBD prescription could help you, when it becomes legal in the UK on November 1st.

 

Chief Scientific Officer – Soza Health

Menopause

MenopauseMany women experience hot flushes as they enter menopause, these are caused by hormonal spikes that trigger changes in temperature, overriding the body’s natural thermostat. They can make it difficult to sleep and can cause sweating, warm and reddening skin, and a raised heart beat in some people.

 

Some tips to avoid the symptoms of hot flashes include:

  • Avoiding the main hot flush triggers such as; spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine, sugary foods and eating large meals.
  • Eating soy products (soy beans 1 cup/day or 1 cup soy milk, tempeh, edamame etc.) can help to reduce many common menopausal symptoms including hot flushes, In fact 11 common menopausal symptoms tested using the Kupperman Index) including; hot flushes, paresthesia, insomnia, nervousness, melancholia, vertigo, weakness, arthralgia, headaches, palpitations and formication, have been found to be reduced after eating soy. Soy can also improve bone mineral density. However, avoid soy if you have an allergy (this affects approx 1 in 2000 people).
  • Eating more dried fruit (particularly, in order of effectiveness; amla (indian gooseberry), goji, cherries, apples, apricot, mango and prunes), can help to lower cholesterol and improves blood flow in post-menopausal women.
  • Other foods and supplements that have been shown to help are; strawberries, evening primrose oil, saffron, chlorella, ground flax and fennel seeds.
  • Additionally, taking a Black Cohosh or a Chaste Berry supplement has been shown to help with symptoms in approximately 80% of people, though it often takes a month or so to see an effect.

Chief Scientific Officer – Soza Health

Soza Health Guide to “The Science Behind Junk Food”

junkfood

Junk foods are full of empty calories with little nutritional value. Junk food can contribute to obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

So why do we crave these foods and find them hard to resist?

There’s a staggering amount of science being utilised by junk food manufacturers in order to create food that is irresistible to all but the strongest willed. If we understand the science behind junk food, we may just be able to outsmart it and resist the urge to eat it.

Melt in the mouth foods: Many fast foods have been engineered to have ‘vanishing caloric density’. The less time food spends in the mouth before it is swallowed, the more rewarding the eating experience. This confuses the body into thinking fewer calories have been eaten as it spends very little time in the mouth and subconsciously encourages overeating. Examples of ‘melt in the mouth’ foods include; ice cream, cheese puffs and popcorn.

No specific taste or aroma: We are programmed to become tired or bored with food if we eat too much of one taste or aroma. To get around this, junk food is often manufactured to be either deliberately bland tasting, such as in vanilla ice cream or lightly salted crisps, or to contain a highly complex array of tastes and aromas that are not discernible and therefore confuse the brain. Eating these foods can override sensory burnout allowing us to eat more.

Sensory contrasts while eating: Our brain releases endorphins when we eat foods with new and exciting sensory contrasts in tastes, temperatures, textures and visual contrasts. Foods that are both sweet and salty, or crunchy and smooth are designed to give us a thrill and intensify the pleasure of eating them.

Food memories: The smells and tastes of certain foods are almost universally loved and induce cravings when we come across them. The smell of bacon is a prime example for many people. Food companies covertly use many of these smells and tastes within their offerings at once, often without you being able to consciously discern that they are there, thus promoting strong cravings.

Its packed with energy: Our brains are wired to prefer high calorie foods. This is a survival mechanism for when food is scarce, but it is detrimental to health in a society such as ours, where food is largely abundant and easily accessible. Fat is the most calorie dense of nutrients and our brains produce a pleasure response whenever we eat it. Fast food manufacturers look to create foods with close to 50% fat content. This fat content increases their desirability and activates pleasurable ‘reward’ pathways in the brain after eating.

They condition the brain towards addiction: After eating, the constituents of fast food go on to activate many of the same ‘reward’ and pleasure pathways in the brain as recreational drugs. This can create a preference for these foods and encourage addictive behaviour.

Encourage saliva production: We taste food better when there is enough saliva in the mouth to help liberate the flavour compounds and moisten the food ready to swallow. Junk food often contains added acids such as lactic or citric acid. These acids promote saliva production and enhances the taste.

Huge portions: Energy dense junk foods become even more desirable if given in larger than normal portions. If you have a large tub of popcorn or ice-cream in front of you, mindless eating is encouraged, and you will eat on average 34% more than you would with a more normal portion.

Casin: Fast foods often contain the milk protein casin. Casin is broken down during digestion into morphine like molecules called casomorphins that can make the food more addictive. These molecules inhibit the gut hormone enterostatin. Enterostatin functions to tell the brain when we have eaten enough fat. So foods with casin mean you can eat more before you feel full.

They have a high Glycemic Index (GI). High GI foods get broken down quickly by the body into simple sugars which are quickly utilised by the body for energy. This is far more rewarding for the brain than slow release, low GI foods, so the body is wired to crave these ‘instant gratification’ foods over far healthier alternatives.

Soza Health guide to the risks of taking sweeteners as a replacement for sugar

sweetner

Adding sugar into your diet can be detrimental to your health as it can contribute to the risk for diabetes.

To combat this risk, many people choose to drink beverages containing artificial sweeteners as a ‘healthy’ alternative to sugar, but beware, as these sweeteners often contain other hidden health risks.

Sweeteners – Sweeteners make you hungrier. In fact, many people who take sweeteners as part of a diet to lose weight, actually end up eating more food!

 

Some common sweeteners and their health risks:

  • Aspartame –  Aspartame has been linked to high blood pressure (hypertension). It also blocks an enzyme in the gut called intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP). This enzyme helps prevent obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
  • Acesulfame-K – Acesulfame-K has been shown to cause DNA damage.
  • Cyclamate – Cyclamate has been shown to cause reduced male fertility and may increase the risk for bladder cancer.
  • Saccharin – Saccharin can cause bladder cancer.
  • Sucralose – Sucralose is a laxative and can dehydrate you by causing water to be drawn from the body into the colon where it is excreted.

 

Gut bacteria – Many sweeteners have also been shown to negatively affect the balance of gut bacteria, leading to a more harmful phenotype that can decrease digestive efficiency and increase inflammation in the gut.

Sugar – The best advice with sugar is don’t try to replace it.  Slowly wean yourself off it instead.  If you get used to a diet that is less sweet in general, your taste buds will soon become accustomed to not needing sugar and you will find that you enjoy the full array of tastes in food again, not just sweet.

Best Sweeteners – If you choose to use a sweetener in your drinks the healthiest options are:

  • Date sugar
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Erythritol
  • Etevia

Soza Health guide to anti-ageing

anti-ageing

Many environmental factors can contribute to wrinkles and skin ageing. These can all be controlled to a certain extent, to maintain a more youthful skin profile. The main influencing environmental factors include; oxidative stress (mainly by sun damage), inflammation, ischaemia (reduced blood flow), smoking, pollution, sleep deprivation and poor nutrition.

 

  • Antioxidants and carotenoids are present in the foods we eat, and have been shown to reduce the effects of sun damage on the skin.

 

  • Carotenoids are derivatives of vitamin A, examples are β-carotene, astaxanthin, lycopene and retinol.

 

  • Antioxidants have been shown to reduce skin redness after sunburn by 40%. High antioxidant foods include; citrus, and berries.

 

  • Alcohol consumption reduces the presence of antioxidants in the skin, thus counteracting their protective effects.

 

  • Carotenoids are available in a wide range of foods; β-Carotene is contained in carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, mangos and papaya; Astaxanthin is found in microalgae, yeast, salmon, trout, krill, shrimp, crayfish and crustacea; Good sources of lycopene are tomatoes (cooked is better) and other red fruits and vegetables, such as red carrots, watermelons and papayas; Retinol and its constituents must be consumed in the diet as they cannot be synthesised by the body. Retinol is present in foods such as; Fish oils and fatty fish, dairy, and liver.

 

  • For vegans, nutritional constituents found in spinach, kale, squash and carrots can be readily converted into retinol by the body, but fats such as avocado or olive oils should be consumed at the same time to increase absorption.

 

  • Prunes, apples and tea are particularly effective at reducing oxidative damage to the skin by sun exposure. Just a few months of increased green tea intake have been shown to reduce skin roughness by 16%. Eating a moderate amount of carotenoid rich foods can even cause a protective carotenoid build up in the skin, giving you a golden glow similar to tanning in the sun.

 

  • Vitamin D3 can reduce the harmful effects of the sun on the skin. It decreases with age and we can lose up to 50% between the ages of 20 and 80, taking vitamin D3 supplements can be beneficial for skin health as we age.

 

  • Polyphenols such as contained in green tea, turmeric, resveritrol in grape skins, sylimarin from milk thistle, coffee, legumes, cereals and chocolate. Can all help to modulate the action of cell signals involved with the ageing process. Reducing the action of these cellular pathways can help to decelerate the ageing process, particularly in the skin.

 

  • Coenzyme Q10 or Ubiquinol is an important mediator of energy production in the body, it also decreases oxidative damage in the skin. Dietary sources of CoQ10 include oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel and tuna), organ meats (such as liver), and whole grains.

 

  • Optimising the bacterial makeup in the gut can have positive effect on the bacterial make-up of the skin. Taking probiotics can help to positively adjust your bacterial makeup and reduce the chance of developing rashes and allergic reactions in the skin.

 

  • Collagen is one of the main constituents of the skin and a destabilisation of the collagen structure can contribute to wrinkle formation, Vitamins C and E have been shown to increase collagen stability and protect from sun damage.

 

  • Good sources of vitamin C are; citrus fruits, blackcurrant, rose hip, guava, chili and parsley. Vitamin E is present in most vegetables, seeds, corn and soy beans.

Soza Health guide to Weight Management

One of the keys to managing one’s weight, is controlling how much we eat. If your daily intake of calories is greater than your daily expenditure of calories through exercise and general movement, then any excess calories will be stored as fat.

weight_management

Over eating can be difficult to control, but there are generally three overeating categories that people can fall into. Each category requires a slightly different strategy to overcome.

 

  1. Eating more than is necessary at mealtimes.

 

  • Many people do not produce enough of a hormone in the stomach that indicates to the brain that it is full.
  • A low Glycaemic Index diet can fill you up more quickly and encourages production of these hormones. Choose sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, brown rice instead of white rice and brown wholemeal bread instead of white bread. Also try and reduce the consumption of carbohydrates such as pasta and heavily processed foods.
  • Using smaller plates to control portion sizes is also advisable. Also waiting 20 minutes after eating before having seconds, will give your brain a chance to receive signals from the stomach indicating that you are full.

 

2. Cravings.

  • Some people feel as if they are constantly hungry between mealtime,s leading to frequent snacking and consumption of excess food. For these people, the 5:2 calorie restricted diet has been found to be very successful.
  • For 5 days a week, you can eat as much as you like, even between mealtimes, but preferably on healthy snack options such as; nuts, seeds, carrots or berries.
  • For the other 2 days, you should eat a set number of calories throughout the day: 600kcal for men and 500kcal for women and stick to it.
  • Many people find it is a lot easier to stick with a diet, when its only 2 days a week!

 

3. Stress eating.

  • It is not uncommon to eat more when emotional, depressed, tired or stressed and to then gain weight as a result.
  • If you are a ‘stress eater’, try and identify the triggers that turn your mind to food when you are stressed, and find ways to re-align those thought processes.
  • It is often a good idea to find and implement an alternative stress-relieving activity when you think about indulging in food, such as meditation, exercising or having a hot bath.

Soza Health guide to managing cholesterol levels

 

cholesterol_levels

High levels of ‘bad’ LDL and VLDL cholesterol in the blood can contribute to increased risk of many diseases including; diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular problems, liver disease, kidney disease, and cognitive decline.

Fibre and plant phytosterols are key to lowering cholesterol, as they prevent excess cholesterol from entering the body in the digestive tract. Adding fibre in the diet encourages the surplus cholesterol to more easily pass through into the colon, where it is excreted.

The highest dietary sources of phytosterols are nuts and seeds, particularly sesame and pistachio. Just one serving of brazil nuts per month, has been shown to provide long-term cholesterol lowering effects.

Amla powder (Indian gooseberry) and dried apples have also been found to be very effective at lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood, whilst at the same time increasing the levels of ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL).

Key foods to try and avoid if you are worried about your cholesterol are; eggs, meat, dairy and processed foods.

British Heart Foundation – BHF Cholesterol guide